Teacher Induction Scheme

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 14 March 2024.

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Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

5. To ask the First Minister what action the Scottish Government will take in response to reported statistics showing that nearly one in five probationary teachers left the teacher induction scheme in 2023. (S6F-02921)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The teacher induction scheme is an important element of teacher education. It guarantees every eligible student teacher a one-year probation placement to allow them to meet the standard for full registration. Probation numbers fluctuate throughout the year due to deferrals and withdrawals for a variety of reasons, including medical or personal ones, or due to extensions to the original initial teacher education qualification.

The strategic board for teacher education, which is made up of a range of key education stakeholders, is looking at issues around teacher recruitment, increasing support for early career teachers, and raising the profile of teaching as a valued profession.

Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

I agree that the number fluctuates. However, the drop-out rate was 13 per cent before Covid and was nearer 19 per cent last year, which is an alarming rise. The Educational Institute of Scotland believes that, once teachers enter the workplace, they face the harsh realities that many in the profession have known for some time—increased workload, less support for teachers and pupils and a lack of permanent and secure jobs for many probationary teachers. On top of that is the rising violence and abuse towards teachers, which concerns all of us.

We already know that, since the First Minister’s party took office, there are 1,000 fewer teachers in Scotland’s classrooms, and we know about the direct impact that that has on subject choice and class sizes. Why does the First Minister think that so many probation teachers are dropping out of the profession so early in their career? More importantly, what is his Government doing about it?

The First Minister:

Jamie Greene is right to raise that important issue, which will have cross-party interest. Many of the reasons that Jamie Greene gives for the fact that we might see deferrals or, indeed, withdrawals from teaching are absolutely correct. The issue of violence in schools is particularly high in our mind and in that of the teaching profession.

Again, I am happy for the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills to write to Jamie Greene with details of the actions that we are taking, from the summits that have taken place to the guidance and guidelines that we have provided schools and the support that we are providing in tackling that particular issue.

We are also trying to ensure that teaching is an attractive profession. One way of doing that is by ensuring that teachers in Scotland are the best paid in the United Kingdom, and that teacher starting salaries are the most attractive in the UK. We also provide a number of bursaries for teachers who will work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—STEM—subjects. There is also the preference waiver scheme, through which teachers who are willing to complete their probation anywhere in Scotland can receive up to £8,000. We are also working with stakeholders on a joint campaign to encourage people to consider teaching an attractive profession.

We are working on a range of issues, and I am more than happy for the education secretary to write to Jamie Greene with further detail of the actions that we are taking.